Duchess of Cambridge’s former headmaster warns on pupils’ depression
The Duchess of Cambridge’s former headmaster has warned that pupils are developing mental health problems because of the current “obsession” with “strong results”.
Marlborough College head Jonathan Leigh, who has been in charge of Kate’s former £35,525-a-year school in Wiltshire for six years, claimed students were suffering from “mental anxiety” because of the academic pressure they are under.
His comments follow a furore over St Olave’s grammar school in Kent unlawfully removing sixth formers who struggled with their AS exams and amid a cheating scandal engulfing public schools including Eton, Winchester College and Charterhouse.
In a review of his 25 years as a headteacher, Mr Leigh wrote: “Academically the need for strong results has increased. A generation of parents and youngsters are increasingly obsessed with measurement. The demand that this places on youngsters has intensified.
“This is reaping concerning results through the pressures created. Heightened mental anxiety is a consequence. Also the wider parameters of a broader education have become more constrained.
“If success is reduced to mere results, then the system has taken over.”
Mr Leigh, writing in the September issue of the Marlborough magazine Tower and Town, argued that tuition fees were a good thing, because they encouraged pupils to consider other career paths.
A generation of parents and youngsters are increasingly obsessed with measurement
“[We have] seen a commendable reversion to more creative thinking, as alternatives to the treadmill of going straight on to a degree,” he said.
However, he added: “If education means the development of the whole person, whilst affording teenagers the space in which to think things through, then this narrowing of focus is in danger of producing less thinking individuals.”
Cautioning against over reliance on online research, he argued: “Concentration is at a premium in an age of quick fix solutions and the hidden shallows of the click of a button leave pupils under-informed.
“Thinking skills are the victim of this fate.”
Echoing Prince William’s concerns about the adverse effect of the internet on young minds, Mr Leigh added: “In short, the inequalities exposed through global connectivity are creating a more bitter and less contented world view. Each individual is endangered by anger association with the insecurities that have been exposed.”
Following the success of their high-profile Heads Together campaign, William, Kate and Harry are planning more engagements around World Mental Health Day in October, with the Duke paying special attention to cyber bullying.
Kate was a boarder at Marlborough College after struggling to settle in at Downe House, an all-girls school in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
Mr Leigh stands down next August after six years as headmaster, when the first woman to hold the position, Louise Moelwyn-Hughes, will take over in what is the 175th anniversary of the College’s foundation.
The news comes as it emerged that a growing number of university undergraduates were reporting mental health problems and a record number had killed themselves.
In 2015, 134 students took their own lives, while 15,395 disclosed a mental health problem – a fivefold rise from 2006-2007.
Craig Thorley, from the IPPR think tank which carried out the research, said: “Universities must be ready to support these students including, where appropriate, through referral into specialist care.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
Tags: Prince William, Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge